October has come and gone—meaning that marketing leaders and their teams have less than two months left in which to spend the remainder of their 2017 marketing budgets. If you’re in this boat, you may find yourself in a “use it or lose it” situation: if you don’t spend the full marketing budget this year.
Allocating part of your remaining 2017 budget to market research is one way to spend your funds while getting a return on your investment. Market research in 2017 offers more tools than ever to help marketers to get a full, fast, 360-degree picture about customers and their perceptions of products, brands, and campaigns.
Here are five reasons to spend some of your remaining 2017 budget on market research:
1) Market research collects the voice of the customer.
Today, companies can gather enormous amounts of customer behavioral data passively, from CRM systems, website analytics, and Internet of Things (IOT) device data.
Big data is useful when tracking market trends and customer behaviors, but it can’t guide your business decisions if you aren’t sure what it means to you. Getting insights directly from customers provides you another lens through which you can view a mountain of passive data.
Using a market research firm to gather customer input ensures that you’re reaching a representative sample and that you’re optimizing the respondent experience—giving you high quality data you can trust.
2) Buyer insights can guide (and sometimes inspire) new product development.
If your company is planning new products for 2018, you’ll need funds for concept testing. You can get ahead of the curve by laying the groundwork now. Engaging a research partner in Q4 can help you:
- understand how customer demographics shifted in 2017
- evaluate changes in the marketplace, including new competitors
- look for untapped opportunities in the coming year
- evaluate new and evolving market forces that may affect your business
Surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, and mobile and traditional ethnography can yield surprising insights from customers that may point you toward opportunities and revenue streams you didn’t know existed.
3) B2B re-branding requires a full understanding of your market position.
If you’re a company considering a re-brand, you’ll need a brand study (and possibly a tracker study) to better understand your market position, and your target market may be more difficult to identify and reach than a consumer company’s. A market research and sampling partner can help you discuss your business goals and challenges, then help you identify the right target and design questionnaires that ask respondents the right questions to yield you actionable data.
Customer feedback can:
- tell you about your company’s current performance
- reveal opportunities for streamlining operations
- help you understand your position in an ever-evolving market
- point out blind spots you can address through marketing, messaging and product strategy
Market researchers can combine input collected directly from customers with passive data, giving you a more complete view of the current landscape so you can make the right pivot in 2018.
4) Influencer marketing has a high ROI.
The opinions and shopping behaviors of peers, social media connectors, and online reviewers impact buyers’ researching process and decision-making. Spending to identify these influencers is worth it. According to a Tomoson study, every $1 invested in influencer marketing generates $6.50 in returns.
In his October 27 post on Smart Insights, Jeff Epstein of the software company Ambassador points out, “The goal is to find trustworthy partners and solutions to maximize tracking opportunities. That way, successful strategies can be honed and repeated to enhance ROI and foster the predictability every company needs to feel more secure.”
Spending on influencer research can help you to identify both the platforms and the players that carry the most weight. You also need to know where and how to advertise so your message is seen: for example, are your digital ads mobile-friendly, and do they appear “above the fold”? Researchers with expertise in measuring digital ad effectiveness make ideal partners for those looking to maximize social channel ROI.
5) Spending now gives you leverage for including market research in 2018’s budget.
When 2018 budgetary discussions come up, market research will compete for resources with other areas, such as passive data collection. Spending a portion of your budget on a Q4 research project can help you demonstrate the importance of direct customer input. If you’re not sure how to have this conversation, you can view this helpful post on talking points to include during your budget discussions. Another helpful resource is Tim B Design’s Digital Marketing Budget Calculator, which allows you to estimate how much you may need for display advertising, search advertising, email marketing, and more.